COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Inside a vacant department store space at Post Oak Mall, Salvation Army volunteers have been rushing back and forth with bins and shopping carts, gathering carefully organized toy bags for the families arriving for pickup.
“This has been the biggest number of families we have served, and the biggest number of children we have served," said Andrea Israel, co-commanding officer with the Salvation Army - Bryan/College Station.
"It’s an increase of even what we saw last year, and so we see that as a continuing result of the impact of the pandemic.”
The Salvation Army of Bryan-College Station saw a record 2,500 children signed up for the annual Angel Tree Christmas gift program.
But for 400 angels plucked off the donation tree, things looked bleak earlier this week.
“This week we had 400 angels that were adopted but not returned, and we term those ‘forgotten angels,’" said Israel.
"…we had the community really step up and provide financially so that we were able to provide for those children through the financial gifts they gave us.”
Israel explained that thanks to a social media cry for help from the Salvation Army on Tuesday, the last-minute donations assured that all 2,500 kids will have something under the tree.
This goal couldn’t be accomplished without community members like Joyce Perkins, who not only volunteered with gift distribution on Friday, but also chose to adopt.
“I adopt angels every year - usually two or three," said Perkins.
"I had two two-year-olds this year... It’s just nice to be a part of, and to think that you’re bringing smiles and happiness to someone.”
By the end of the day Friday, families will have collected all the remaining gifts.
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